If you’re starting to make plans for 2018, make sure you’ve factored in Visit Bristol’s 118 things to do in Bristol.

We've put together our list of top recommendations for fun-filled family days out, exciting experiences, amazing attractions, glorious gardens, belting bars, ridiculously good restaurants, wonderful water activities, cracking cultural goings-on, quirky things to do and loads more!

Let us know how many you manage to tick off using the hashtag #BristolBucketList2018

Jump to:

Family | Outdoors Arts & Culture | Sport Food & Drink |Heritage, History & Tours | Music & FestivalsShopping | Something Different| Sacred Bristol | 

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Image - Clifton Suspension Bridge, credit Bristol County Council


1. Learn up on the life and works of Victorian engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Bristol’s brand new museum, Being Brunel scheduled to open in spring 2018. Located alongside the SS Great Britain, the museum will bring to life never-before-seen personal possessions, documents and artefacts.

2. Explore M Shed, an exciting museum that tells the story of Bristol and its people using interactive exhibits. Don’t miss the Bristol Music Exhibition, May-Oct 2018.

3. Go on a spectacular sea safari at Bristol Aquarium, from the British coast through warmer waters to exotic tropical seas.     

4. Swing alongside gibbons in Zooropia at Bristol Zoo Gardens – an aerial ropes course for adventurous over 5s.

5. Experience life as a Victorian sailor and climb the rigging with ‘Go Aloft!’ at Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Discover Victorian-themed family events which take place throughout the year - worth keeping an eye on around school holidays.

6. Seek out sculptures of Gromit, Wallace and Feathers McGraw around the city in an exciting new Grand Appeal trail, Gromit Unleashed 2, planned for summer 2018. In collaboration with Aardman, money raised goes towards Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation.

7. Enter the Human Accumulator to learn about hydraulic power in just two minutes at Bristol’s working boatyard attraction, Underfall Yard.

8. Summon your inner Tigger at AirHop, the world’s biggest trampoline park, or flip out at Freedog Urban Activity Centre, which has its own Parkour Academy for learning cool new stunts.

9. Weave in and out of the tree canopy on Westonbirt Arboretum’s Treetop Walkway and marvel at the colours of the season. In winter, see the trees lit up for an Enchanted Christmas.  

10. Wander through thousands of giant Chinese lanterns in the magical Longleat Festival of Light at Christmas time.

11. Ask questions, get creative and test things out at We The Curious. Brimming with exhibits and experiences to fire your curiosity, it’s also home to the UK’s only 3D Planetarium.

12. Get the kids outdoors and closer to nature at Bristol’s Wild Place Project. For the ultimate adrenaline adventure try their Leap of Faith with seven different challenges on offer, or go on a glamping adventure amongst the exotic animals at their Camp Baboon

Camp Baboon

Image - Wild Place Project's Camp Baboon

13. Pop into Bristol Museum and Art Gallery for world-class collections and dynamic exhibitions. From 31 March – 24 June, six large tapestries by the Turner-prize winning artist Grayson Perry will be on show.

14. Skim pebbles into the sea and wander along the Victorian pier in the charming, traditional seaside town of Clevedon.

15. Get your Instagram accounts at the ready…views of Bristol’s world-famous landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge are hard to top. Guided tours run regularly from the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre if you’d like to learn about the bridge’s history, or walk across to the wide open space of Ashton Court Estate.

16. Marvel at big zoo animals African Elephants, White Rhino, Giraffes, Lions, Tigers and Bears at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

17. Spot oodles of birdlife, splash in the outdoor water play area, or take a canoe safari at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

18. Let little explorers run wild at Puxton Park and Avon Valley Wildlife Park. Rides, activities, soft play, animal encounters, miniature railways and tons more family fun awaits.

19. Make friends with farmyard animals at Windmill Hill City Farm. Be sure to check out the café – there’s an amazing array of homemade cakes to choose from...

20. See a major West End production at The Bristol Hippodrome, one of the country's top, family-friendly theatres. Wicked, Hairspray and Shrek the Musical are all on the bill for 2018.

21. Get your culture fix at Tobacco Factory Theatres, where you’ll find everything from Shakespeare to opera, comedy, puppetry and dance. A £1.5 million project will transform the building to accommodate a new flexible, multi-purpose studio performance space with state of the art retractable seating, due to launch in October 2018. Foodies will also love the Sunday morning Tobacco Factory Market next door.

22. Discover Britain’s most spectacular caves and the legendary home of the infamous Witch of Wookey at Wookey Hole Cave and Attractions.

23. Go Ape! Fly down zip-wires, leap off the Tarzan Swing and tackle the crossings whilst taking in some of Britain’s most breath-taking scenery.

24. Let youngsters loose at Old Down Country Park or take the Farm Trail at Cattle Country Adventure Park. Moooo!

SS Great Britain

Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain, Go Aloft!


25. Wander the beautiful gardens of the National Trust Tyntesfield Estate and The University of Bristol Botanic Garden.

26. Hop aboard one of Bristol Insight’s open top buses for a great introduction to Bristol and a unique way of getting around some of the city’s best attractions.

27. Seek out landmarks relating to the mythical Bristol giants within the grounds of Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate. There’s also a huge play area for little ones, folly castle and mansion house to explore.

28. Roam medieval Berkeley Castle and its gorgeous grounds, making sure to visit the magical Butterfly House. 

29. Go mountain biking in the gorgeous grounds of Ashton Court Estate or nearby Leigh Woods. Families should check ahead to see if the miniature railway is running at Ashton Court or spot deer in the park.

Pedal Progression

Image - Pedal Progression mountain bike hire, skills coaching and guided mountain bike rides in Ashton Court Estate

30. Take a leaf out of Bristol’s eco-friendly book and get on your bike, better yet, a bicycle made for two! As the UK’s first cycling city, Bristol has many cycle lanes and routes.

31. Stroll along the Frome Valley Walkway which connects to other parks along the river including Snuff Mills and Oldbury Court Estate.

32. Eat an ice cream on The Downs by the Sea Walls and gaze over stunning views of the Avon Gorge.

33. Discover Bristol on foot with the UK's largest urban walking festival in May, featuring themed walks and events. For year-round guided and self-guided walking tours, see here for a full list or visit the Tourist Information Centre

34. Picnic in Bristol’s oldest park, Brandon Hill before climbing Cabot Tower for unforgettable panoramic views of the city.

35. Get the kids outdoors with a trip to one of the city’s 400 or so parks and gardens. Eastville Park has its own fishing lake and wild flower meadows, Troopers Hill Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife, Stoke Park also has a fishing pond and is grade II-listed.

36. Take a bracing walk along Weston-super-Mare’s vast sand beaches or hit the arcade machines and thrilling rides, including a 300-metre indoor go-kart track, F1 simulators and robo-coaster inside the Grand Pier.

Brandon Hill

Image - View from Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill, credit Paul Box

Arts & Culture

37. Watch an independent film at Watershed or join them in July (26-29) for Cinema Rediscovered - a chance to see some of the finest new digital restorations, contemporary classics and film print rarities on the big screen.

38. Follow in the footsteps of your favourite film and TV characters with Bristol Film Office’s ‘Movie Maps’, pinpointing famous Bristol filming locations. The city is a major production base for film and TV and has just been named a UNESCO City of Film.  

39. Find out what goes on inside the BBC with an award-winning guided tour.

40. Laugh-out-loud in bleak January at the Bristol Slapstick Festival 2018 held in four venues - Colston Hall, Bristol Old Vic, Arnolfini and Watershed - from 26-28 January.

41. Be inspired by captivating productions at Bristol Old Vic - the UK’s longest continually running theatre.  BOV will complete the second stage of its redevelopment with a spectacular glass-fronted foyer, state-of-the-art studio theatre, as well as new bars, restaurants and city centre catering facilities.

42. Enjoy some of the best and brightest contemporary and alternative theatre from around the world when Mayfest returns to Bristol in 2018.

43. Take a street art tour around the city with expert guides, ‘Where the Wall’, get stuck into a Graft graffiti workshop, or discover Banksy's Bristol at your own pace by downloading the Banksy Bristol Trail by Cactus Apps.

Street art bristol

Image - Street art in Bedminster, Bristol, credit Paul Box

44. Watch graffiti artists paint giant murals on the buzzy café bars, shops and buildings around Bedminster and North Street at Upfest’s 10th birthday, 28-30 July.

45. Brush up on your Shakespeare in some unusual spaces around Bristol including Brandon Hill bowling green and Redcliffe Caves, as part of the Bristol Shakespeare festival in July.

46. Have a cracking night out at The Old Market Assembly, one of Bristol’s most affordable cultural venues with restaurant, café, bar, bakery, live music venue and home of the Wardrobe Theatre.

47. Take a deep breath and dive into Submerge Festival, Bristol’s International Festival of Digital Arts and Electronic Music takes place in April. The expanded line-up features audio-visual artists and a huge installation inside Bristol Cathedral.

48. Satisfy your cinematic cravings at one of Bristol’s many film festivals – watch new filmmaking talent at Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival (25-30 September), see awe-inspiring images of life on Earth at Wildscreen (15-19 October), celebrate Hollywood legend Cary Grant’s Bristol roots at the Cary Grant Festival (23-25 November) and keep an eye on Bristol Film Festival for exciting, immersive screenings. Read more about Bristol’s top film festivals here.

49. Giggle and guffaw at Bristol Comedy Garden on Queen Square in summer. 

50. View contemporary art down on the Harbourside at Arnolfini or Spike Island.

51. Celebrate the best of historic and contemporary British art at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA), England’s only regional Royal Academy of Art.

52. Indulge your thespian side at the Redgrave Theatre - it hosts operas, musicals, stand-up comedy, theatre and dance - or Colston Hall which will be presenting a diverse programme of live music and comedy as well as a new run of off-site events as it begins a multi-million pound transformation.

Bristol Film Festival Cathedral

Image - Bristol Film Festival, Bristol Cathedral


53. Watch a live rugby game or Bristol City football match at Ashton Gate Stadium. Live sport is also shown in their Bristol Sports Bar & Grill, on the largest indoor pub screen in the country. To see Bristol Rovers F.C play, head up Gloucester Road to the Memorial Stadium in Horfield.

54. Get a jog on - Bristol's half marathon (23 Sept) and 10k (13 May) are now part of the Great Run series.

55. Score a hole-in-one at some of the most naturally beautiful golf courses in the West Country or play in a virtual world at golf simulation facility, inPlay Golf.

56. Go climbing! The spectacular Avon Gorge is one of the finest climbing venues in the South West - try Adventurous Activity Company for equipment and instruction or stay indoors at Redpoint Climbing Centre.

57. Scale Britain’s biggest gorge with Cheddar Gorge X-treme.

58. Watch England’s women’s world cup winners’ play in the city at the IT20 Tri-Series at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. GCCC will also host the international T20 England Vs India (sold out).

59. Explore gorgeous countryside on foot or bike. Take the Bristol and Bath Railway Path which cuts through beautiful landscape between the two cities and follows an old railway line (complete with the ruins of station buildings and platforms) or explore the Strawberry Line in the Cheddar Valley.

Half marathon

Image - Bristol's half marathon

On the water

60. Learn to paddleboard, canoe or sail in Bristol’s historic harbour.

61. Pootle around the Harbourside on a ferry boat - Bristol Ferry Boats or Number Seven Ferry Boat both run services around the harbour.

62. Float upstream on a guided boat trip with Bristol PacketBristol Ferry Boats, or Number Seven Boat Trips. Alternatively, hire Avon River Cruises' 'Silver Salmon' for an extra special day trip or evening event. (And if you need a different-sized vessel, all the companies mentioned also do private hire). 

63. Step back in time on The Matthew, a stunning replica of the ship in which John Cabot discovered North America in 1497. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming public trips, including fish and chips and pirate tours around the harbour.

64. Spend the night on luxury boat hostel, the Kyle Blue, which can be found sitting pretty near Wapping Wharf. 


Image - Paddleboarding in Bristol, credit Carolyn Eaton

Food & Drink

65. Treat yourself to some Michelin-starred dining at Casamia or Paco Tapas. The team also own Pi Shop, which serves fantastic sourdough pizza and ice cream.

66. Travel back in time to the days of prohibition with flirty speakeasy-style cocktail bars – Milk ThistleHyde & Co and Noche Negra. There is also an emerging magic scene with dedicated magic bars Illusions and Smoke and Mirrors.

67. Spice up your summer with a whole host of food festivals in the city. Go vegan at VegFestUK (26-27 May), feast at the Foodies Festival (11-13 May) or gather with the city’s food community at Bristol Food Connections (4-10 June). BBQ-loving carnivores should check out Grillstock for a two-day festival of meat and music with a dash of hillbilly spirit.

68. Unwind and relax at Clifton’s restored outdoor Lido before popping in for a bite to eat at the award-winning poolside restaurant.

Lido bristol

Image - The Lido Bristol

69. Drink cider - as capital of the West Country, Bristol is home to some of the finest ciders in the land. Try The Stable, Bristol Cider Shop or The Apple for some of the best.

70. Treat gin enthusiasts by booking a 6 O’clock gin distillery tour at Bramley & Gage which includes a tutored tasting.

71. Become a wine connoisseur with a tasting at Averys Wine Merchants, they've been sourcing the most perfect plonk since 1793. 

72. Become an ale aficionado at Bristol Beer Week in October, the city is home to some of the country's most lauded small breweries and independent establishments. If you can't wait until October, Bristol Hoppers tours run group tours that let you enjoy a wide selection of beers from Bristol brewers at pubs, microbreweries and tap rooms. Many of them are also involved in the East Bristol Brewery Trail which normally takes place on bank holiday weekends – keep an eye on their page for details. 

73. Check out Spuntino at Cargo - a cool collection of cafés, shops and bars in repurposed shipping containers. The wider Wapping Wharf area is also great for food, with its own Better Food supermarket and café for wholesome bites. 


Image - Cargo, Wapping Wharf, credit Jon Craig

74. Try a bit of everything on the EatWalkTalk Bristol Food Tour which includes up to 12 terrific tastings.

75. Clink glasses at Bristol Cocktail Week in autumn. Past events have included tea parties, absinthe life drawing classes, endless tequila, top secret gin experiences and fabulous cocktail quizzes.

76. Drink PIMM’s on the sun terrace at the White Lion Bar, perched on the edge of the Avon Gorge for iconic views of Clifton Suspension Bridge.

77. Take time for tea - it’s quintessentially English and totally delicious. Bristol has a ton of places where you can indulge in afternoon tea - click here for a list.

78. Dine at The Pony and Trap – the 200-year old country inn near the pretty village of Chew Magna has a Michelin star and is one of the most exciting places to visit in the South West.

79. Grab lunch at locals' favourite St Nick's Market in the Old City. Choose from halloumi-stuffed wraps, plump sausage sandwiches, luscious lamb tagine and more. On certain days you'll also find more markets out on Corn Street including the Nails Market, Bristol Farmers' Market and Friday Food Market.  

80. Sip award-winning locally-brewed real ales aboard The Grain Barge - docked in a beautiful Harbourside location in sight of Brunel's SS Great Britain.

Afternoon tea

Image - Afternoon Tea at Cox & Baloney Tea Rooms

Heritage, History & Tours

81. Be blown away by Concorde Alpha Foxtrot up close at the newly opened Aerospace Bristol, which tells the amazing story of Bristol’s world-class aerospace industry.

82. Uncover Blackbeard’s lair in Bristol’s medieval port on a Pirate Walk around the Harbourside. 2018 marks the 300th anniversary of his death.

83. Set off on a self-guided walking or cycling tour around Bristol's Floating Harbour with the Treasure Island Trail and uncover Bristol’s connections with the famous book. Look out for the brilliant live theatre tours in school holidays.

84. See how a wealthy merchant would have lived in the 18th century at Georgian House Museum, set in a restored townhouse. Or enter The Red Lodge, a historic Elizabethan house tucked away behind Park Street.

85. Discover interactive displays, sounds, visuals and activities inside St John on the Wall – a medieval church built into the last remaining part of Bristol’s original city wall.


Image - Aerospace Bristol

Music & Festivals

86. Tap your feet to some American bluegrass and roots music at Bristol Bluegrass & Americana Festival in March, or homespun acoustic music at Bristol Folk Festival in April.

87. Treat your ears to some of the world’s most thrilling jazz, blues and swing musicians at the Bristol International Jazz and Blues festival, March 15-18.

88. Party the weekend away at Love Saves the Day festival, 26-27 May. Fatboy Slim and Sampha will be headlining Saturday and Sunday respectively.

89. Shake some moves at the Dot to Dot festival on 26 May. The festival showcases a line-up of innovative, exciting and ground-breaking acts in intimate spaces across Bristol.

90. Rock out to a star studded line-up of 80’s pop-stars at the Let’s Rock Festival in its new home on The Downs on 2 June. Family-friendly nostalgia at its best.

91. Dance the night away in the incredible Harbourside amphitheatre, the designated venue for Bristol Sounds’ al fresco concerts in summer. Last year’s acts included Manic Street Preachers, Craig David and Hacienda Classical.

92. Go big at St. Paul's Afrikan Caribbean Carnival, back in 2018 for its 50th birthday in July.

93. Don’t miss Bristol Harbour Festival from 20-22 July - one of the UK's largest public festivals, jam-packed with live performance, artists, musicians, circus acts, children’s events, dancers, markets and street stalls.

94. Go wild at the UK’s biggest free celebration of the natural world, the Festival of Nature (9 -10 June). Wildlife buffs will also love the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at M Shed which runs from October to March.

95. Get those dancing wellies on for Valley Fest in the beautiful Mendip hills, 3-5 August. As well as tons of family-friendly activities, there's a big food focus too, with a gourmet organic Midnight Feast and a giant communal picnic.

96. Join the Pride Parade (6-15 July) - the week-long festival features entertainment, a family area, funfair, market stalls, food stalls, bars and a community area.

97. Watch a ‘nightglow’ – when hot air balloons illuminate the night accompanied by music at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta from 9-12 August. The free four-day event celebrates its 40th birthday in 2018 and is a fantastic spectacle.

98. Listen to world class musicians and performers at one of the country’s finest concert halls, the newly revamped St George’s Bristol.

99. Dance on a boat at Thekla. Bristol has a vibrant music scene beating behind the doors of its many characterful venues, you could also try Motion, Lakota, Mr Wolf’s or SWX.

100. Go to a gig at The Louisiana, The Fleece, The Old Duke (for jazz), The CanteenNo 1 Harbourside or Colston Hall - all fantastic live music venues.

Bristol Sounds

Image - Bristol Sounds


101. Test your stamina with a shopping trip up Park Street – a steep hill well known for its independent, high-end and high-street shops, cafés and bars.

102. Wander around Clifton Village for pretty Georgian streets lined with boutiques and fine places to eat like The Ivy Clifton Brasserie.

103. Go on a shopping-spree, from Harvey Nichols in Cabot Circus, to the high-street bargains of Bristol Shopping Quarter, the city is a world-class shopping venue. The Mall at Cribbs Causeway is another great shopping destination.

104. Soak up the yuletide atmosphere of Bristol’s fantastic Christmas markets – a traditional Christmas MarketLocal Christmas MarketMade in Bristol Gift Fair and Harbourside Christmas market (to name a few) set up camp across the city in the festive season. Take a look at the list here.

105. Famed for street art, retro and vintage bargains and delicious food, Gloucester Road has the largest number of independent shops on one road in the UK.

Harbourside Xmas market

Image - Harbourside Christmas Market

Something Different

106. Treat yourself to an overnight stay in some of the city’s lovely accommodation. You'll find everything from luxury apartments and city centre hotels to retro airstreams and eco B&Bs. 2018 will see the arrival of Bristol’s first 5-star hotel as well as the relaunch of the Avon Gorge Hotel by Hotel du Vin.

107. Skate under the stars at one of the city’s Christmas ice rinks – try We The Curious or The Mall at Cribbs Causeway Winter Wonderland.

108. Give someone the unforgettable experience of soaring above Bristol in a hot air balloon. Bristol Balloons, Bailey Balloons and Elite Air (UK) Ltd offer flights. Read about our hot air balloon experience here.

109. Blow your own bauble with the team at Bristol Blue Glass, who use 300-year-old methods to create glass.

110. Propose! Bristol has many romantic spots that would make the perfect location for a proposal. Be inspired by our top 5 places to propose in the city here.

111. Call upon your inner Miss Marple at Crimefest (17-20 May). The annual International Crime Fiction Convention, held at Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, is one of Europe’s largest and most popular crime-writing festivals.

112. Bristol Doors Open Day, organised by The Architecture Centre, is a once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city’s hidden treasures.

113. Have fun testing your problem solving skills with a bunch of mates at LockedInARoomPuzzlair-4D or the Real Life Escape Room.  

114. Take an After Hours tour to learn more about beautiful Victorian garden cemetery, Arnos Vale, the final resting place for some of Bristol’s most notable citizens since opening in1837. The site offers an insight into the era of Victorian extravagance and provides a haven for wildlife spotting and leisurely strolls with trail maps available. 

115. Feel a million dollars (or Bristol Pounds) with a soak at the city's newest spa at Bristol Harbour Hotel, found in the vaults of two former banks in the Old City.

116. Don't spend a penny! Check out our list of fun free events

Bristol Balloon fiesta

Image - Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, credit Paul Box

Sacred Bristol

  1. Sing your heart out at Christmas time with carols by candlelight at various venues across Bristol – popular services include St Mary Redcliffe churchBristol CathedralSt James Priory and John Wesley’s Chapel ‘The New Room’.
  2. Take the Wolf Hall trail at Bristol Cathedral. Bristol Cathedral doubled as Westminster Abbey for the multi-award winning series and appeared in almost every episode. Berkeley Castle and Wells Cathedral also featured in the programme.

Cathedral choir

Image - Bristol Cathedral Choir, credit A. Campbell

Happy exploring!

Oh. and don't forget to pin us on Pinterest!

118 things to do in Bristol